There has been much publicised about Lily Allen’s personal life since her emergence in 2006, but on fourth album; No Shame, Allen has been able to channel everything she has weathered into yet another high point in her career. Allen’s cockney charm and honest opinions remain at the heart of everything she does, making for a record that is both freeing an fulfilling.
Opener Come On Then sees Allen addressing some of the controversies and stories that have followed her around for years. It’s a stark reminder that we live in world where male abusers continue to receive global praise whereas female artists dedicated to positive change; such as Lily Allen, are maligned and assumed to be too loud. Come On Then is less an invitation to start a fight, and more a genuine invitation to step into Lily’s shoes and experience just how harsh her life has been since becoming a musician.
The Giggs featuring track Trigger Bang highlights how Allen’s finger remains firmly on the pulse. It’s a solid collaboration that will sadly not get the credit it truly deserves. Allen and Giggs strike the perfect balance between empowered and apathetic. What You Waiting For? Takes Lily’s love of ska and reggae back to the forefront. It’s an exercise in revelling at being self-destructive in the wake up of a marriage breakdown. The topic of sex and drugs isn’t coming from a heightened sense of bravado, but of simple honesty – and Allen is one of only few that can pull off such frank admissions.
Family Man is as close as Lily Allen will ever get to a ballad, but after listening to this track it will have you firmly of the belief that she should sing the next James Bond film single. Again, there is honesty coursing through every vein of this song – acknowledging the other side of a predicament and extending sympathy with a former partner. The deeper this album gets, the more into Lily Allen you are likely to become.
There is a strongly relatable sentiment in the title of Everything To Feel Something – turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms to generate any kind of sensation; good or bad. It’s another piano led tune that is a stark contrast to the earlier moments of this album, but again it’ something that Allen also does exceptionally well. The lament of Allen’s broken heart is moving, and there is a real sense of inner trauma that shimmers through every line.
As it was rightfully put in the first Shrek movie, everybody loves cake! This can now be extended to the closing track of the same name. Cake is a swift swipe at the patriarchy, rightfully questioning why a woman can’t occupy multiple facets of sexy, responsible and intelligent. The slower and slightly more sultry tempo makes the; potentially uncomfortable for some, lesson that bit more clever as it plays on the very alluring quality that so many people try to define women by.
Lily Allen never left the spotlight; for one reason or another, but with No Shame she has revisited her past Fuck You mentality with more vigour and eloquence. At the surface, it is objectively an excellent pop record made by an extremely brilliant artist. You don’t need to dig deep to hit the more complex meanings and messages that have fuelled this album, Allen has taken her experiences an turned them into some of her finest work to date.